Finding the Missing

Finding the Missing

“What if it were your loved one, your child, or granny who is missing? Devastating and terrifying, you want to do everything you can to bring them back safe and well, just to say, ‘I love you’, one more time.”

Motorfinity supports all the Search and Rescue organisations including Lowland Rescue. Here, volunteer Neil Balderson explains more:

Someone is reported missing roughly every 90 secs in the UK. Most of these are found quickly and return home safely, but some do not. Those not found are often called High Risk Missing Persons, and you will no doubt have seen the social media and press appeals for information and sightings.

“Searching an area takes skill and training, and you don’t want to become a casualty yourself.”

Have you ever wondered who does go searching for them? Did you know there is a large organisation of over 1800 volunteers in 35 teams across the Country who stand ready to search for and rescue them. That organisation is Lowland Rescue.

Lowland Rescue is the lesser-known sibling of the UK volunteer Search and Rescue agencies, including Mountain Rescue and the RNLI. We operate in the area between the mountains and the coast, in effect “from hill to high water”. Our work is often more difficult to talk about: We could be looking for missing children, those living with dementia, or potentially suicidal individuals. It may be harder to talk about, but it is none the less vitally important.

Our teams are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, ready to assist the police and other emergency services with the searches. Our members are all volunteers, but professional volunteers, trained to national standards, and constantly training to maintain their skills. These include navigation, radio communications, advanced casualty care, risk assessments and much more.

A typical team is made up of search technicians, the humans on the ground doing the searching and team leaders responsible for a four-man team in the field. Search Planner and Operation Controllers work in the mobile incident control vehicles, to design a search strategy based on the evidence and information we have and then deliver this. Finally ending with a Search Manager who acts to control and direct the operation.

In a typical year, the 35 teams are called out over 900 times. That means that typically at any one time 2 to 3 teams are deployed on live rescue missions. These operations can last for hours and days as searches evolve and grow. Moreover, we know that these save lives: We have examples of our trailing dogs being instrumental in locating a missing person in need of rapid medical help, or our water rescue teams finding a person who had entered the water and was close to drowning. Our medics have performed multiple lifesaving interventions on those in need, including severely hypothermic casualties. This really is lifesaving work.

The search is driven by using the best resources we have, and Lowland Rescue has a lot at its disposal: 1500+ qualified search technicians, 40+ qualified search dogs -both area and trailing - multiple drones, boats, quads, bike, and water specialists. Our humans and dogs are our frontline workers, getting on the ground quickly and searching efficiently Our dogs are incredible in their ability to cover areas up to 10 times faster than humans. This is all backed up with comprehensive technology usage. This could be a drone flight search, or a thermal imaging camera at night. In our planning, we apply technology and statistics too, looking at past cases and plotting the more likely scenarios and locations to be found.

Lowland Rescue is now over 25 years old, but we are continually moving forward to become more skilled, equipped, and well known. Our volunteers will remain on call 24/7 ready for the next job to come in, working constantly to find those missing and bring them home.